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Dare to Create!: 35 Challenges to Boost Your Creative Practice

Dare to Create!: 35 Challenges to Boost Your Creative Practice

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Dare to Create!: 35 Challenges to Boost Your Creative Practice

Longueur:
358 pages
5 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Jan 29, 2021
ISBN:
9781681987378
Format:
Livre

Description

Want to create but don't know where to start? Need a shot of inspiration?

Dare to Create! is the ultimate guide to fueling your artistic journey, from your first steps to the expression of your own style. Overcome creative blockages with the 35 inspiring challenges in this book as engineer-turned-artist Marie Boudon guides you in developing your art. Whatever your level (beginner or advanced) and your mode of artistic expression (drawing, painting, collage, photography, etc.), this is the ultimate guide to boosting your creativity and making beautiful art! This colorful book includes: 

• Advice on how to “let go”
• Exercises to awaken your imagination and inspire
• Techniques to forge your own creative process and avoid dead ends
• Inspirational testimonies from beloved artists and creators 

And much, much more! 
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Jan 29, 2021
ISBN:
9781681987378
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

An engineer by training, Marie Boudon decided in 2017 to launch her activity around watercolor, a medium that fascinates her. She now offers video lessons on her site Les Tribulations de Marie. Reconciling work and passion, learning on your own and professionalizing your art has not always been easy. When she discovered that her questions were shared by many artists, she had the idea to write this book.

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Dare to Create! - Marie Boudon

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INTRODUCTION

At the beginning of 2015, I felt the need to reconnect with my creativity, which I had completely set aside for a long time. At the time, I was an engineer, and it wasn’t that easy to reconcile my work with my budding passion for watercolors. I was teaching myself, and I often felt lost: Where should I start? How should I move forward? How should I organize myself? How could I find my own style? Most of the time, these questions kept me from moving forward, and I spent entire weeks at a time just thinking about the best way to do things.

In order to find help and suggestions, I read a lot of books and listened to a large number of podcasts on creativity, art, and personal development. I was hoping for a look behind the scenes at artists’ practices, in any field. Very few shared their secrets, because a person’s artistic practice is very personal and involves their intimate life, or because revealing themselves that way would have threatened their uniqueness. And yet, everything I learned about an artist’s organization, inspiration, confidence, habits, or personality nurtured my own art much more than any technical advice on mixing pigments would have done. I understood that these ideas had to do with the creative process, and my new goal was to develop my own in a holistic way. The American photographers and writers David Bayles and Ted Orland, in their book Art & Fear, Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, write: We are taught to paint, but not really to paint our own paintings.

In 2016, I moved from theory to practice. Internalizing the pieces of advice that I had gathered and gradually experimenting with them was much more revealing to me than theory: it allowed me to feel things. I understood that advice on creativity fell into two very different categories:

the category of Organization, including the keywords:

order, planning, research, iterations, mastery, meticulousness, repetition, orchestration, cerebral

the category of Spontaneity, including the keywords:

intuition, experimental, risk, raw, chaos, improvisation, visceral, sensations

As a project manager, I was, of course, more comfortable with the advice that fell into the category of Organization, and I was reassured to see that many artists practiced their art in a disciplined way. When I finally decided to accept and draw on the scientific side of my personality—which I had thought was contrary to my creativity—I was able to benefit from what I could learn from my professional life, specifically the tools of time management and task tracking, and I made a great leap forward. At the same time, I was aware that [p. 6] I also had to exercise the spontaneous side of my creative process. It was harder for me to let go so that I could improvise or experiment. But I realized that when I did, that opened up a new field of possibilities. After about a year, I started combining these different abilities and creating my own practice.

This kind of approach is thrilling, because your result (a final product) is less important than the total adventure. Exercising your creative process is a constant renewal, and it gives an entirely new dimension to an artistic practice.

I decided to write this book so that I could share this journey and help guide you on your own creative path, from your first self-doubts to the affirmation of your voice. This book is the fruit of my experiences but, especially, of a lot of research, in particular with some fascinating artists, whose own words and personal stories you will find over the course of these pages.

Whatever level you are at (beginner or expert), and whatever your artistic practice (photography, drawing, painting, collage, etc.), this book will accompany you as you practice your art and also guide you in your mental practice, which is essential to your progress.

How should I read this book?

This volume is made up of thirty-five challenges. Each of them uses a variety of methods (ranging from very deliberate to very spontaneous) and encourages you to practice. And going beyond the reading, your own activity will allow you to discover the methods that work best for you.

The challenges follow the natural progression of an artist’s path. Thus, I suggest that you first read the book once through in order. Then, after having accumulated some creative experience, you will probably return to some of the challenges with a new perspective.

These challenges are just a beginning: listen to yourself and allow yourself the time to put together the various bricks that this book offers you into your own path. Get ready to learn a lot about your art and about yourself so that you can let your creativity blossom!

PART 1

ACCEPTING YOURSELF

Painting, drawing, photography, calligraphy, collage. . . . One or more of these artistic practices interests you, but it’s not your thing. What is keeping you from getting started? I don’t have time. I don’t have any talent. . . . The list of excuses is long and justified—it’s true that our busy daily life doesn’t leave a lot of room for creativity.

Everybody has their own blocks, but they all come from the same place: the fear of the unknown. Creating means accepting the unknown and leaving your comfort zone: it’s frightening. You’re not happy about being blocked, but you’d rather wait for a better time instead of than getting started now. Will that time ever come? In fact, this state of creative blockage is harder to live with than the highs and lows of the practice of your art. Know that, as Elizabeth Gilbert writes in her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Creative living is a path for the brave. This first part of the book will help you to accept yourself by confronting your doubts, which will seem very small and silly once you have made the leap!

CHALLENGE 1

Giving yourself permission to create

YOU WANT TO CREATE, BUT MAYBE YOU THINK THAT IT ISN’T FOR YOU. YOUR AGE, YOUR TRAINING, OR YOUR DAILY LIFE GET IN THE WAY. WHAT A SHAME! WHATEVER YOUR SITUATION, IT’S TIME FOR YOU TO GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO CREATE. IN THIS CHALLENGE, I PROPOSE THAT YOU DECIPHER THE BARRIERS THAT ARE KEEPING YOU FROM BEING CREATIVE AND OVERCOME THEM USING POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS.

Creativity is not my thing

No matter how old you are or what your history or education is, you can teach yourself a new creative discipline and have fun doing it. The French American sculptor and visual artist Louise Bourgeois had her greatest successes after she turned seventy. She kept creating things in her Brooklyn studio until she was ninety-eight years old, saying, Art is a guarantee of sanity. The only condition you need to fulfill in order to be able to create is just to get started.

The life you have lived will nurture your art. In my case, I was afraid to think of myself as an artist because of my training as an engineer. I thought that I was too rational, too technical, too deliberate. Calling yourself an artist seems taboo, like something reserved for a very select group. People often prefer to say something like I paint. And yet, as the Israeli painter and writer Jonathan Kis-Lev writes in his book Masterwork, You should be the first to be proud of your work and to talk about it. Like me, decide to accept all of the facets of your personality and jump in!

There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.

—Raymond Chandler, American novelist, poet, and screenwriter, in The Long Goodbye

The influence of your childhood and your environment

When you were little, were you encouraged to create? For children, exploring their creativity comes naturally, and they don’t feel embarrassed about it. The creative life you had as a child influences your adult creative life and plays a role in your blockages. In your childhood, people may have said apparently innocuous things to you like, Oh, you’re better at math than drawing, aren’t you? Things like that may have left their mark on you, inhibiting you in your creative practice.

Now, distance yourself from this kind of (often unintentionally) hurtful remark. Reconnect with your childhood soul and rediscover your desire to learn and your inborn confidence.

It’s up to you to decide

Why not try to create? Don’t be tied down by your own expectations or those of the people around you. Just give yourself permission to start: don’t put yourself in a box, and don’t underestimate your creative abilities. Do you like to write, do interior decoration, garden, cook, suggest new ideas at work? Then you are already being creative in your daily life. Don’t wait for someone to tell you, Yes, you’re an artist—decide for yourself.

The world needs you. We need your inspiration. We need your creations. And even if someone has told you otherwise, there is room for you. You just have to get started.

—Jonathan Kis-Lev, Israeli painter and writer

If you’re not creating, fate is probably not to blame. Something deep down inside you is stopping you. The decision of whether to get started or not is all yours. Unlearn everything you think you know about your own creativity. If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced, was Vincent van Gogh’s advice. After all, can you really do without your creativity? If you continue to keep it tucked away, hidden within you, it could make you sick.

Your creativity doesn’t depend on anyone but you.

—Jim Leonard, American writer

Your Turn

In order to allow yourself to be creative, you are going to use affirmations. These are short, positive statements that you say out loud in order to encourage yourself. Some writers, like Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way) and Hal Elrod (The Miracle Morning) emphasize that affirmations can reprogram you completely, giving you a burst of confidence. Your final blocks will fall away, and you will break free from the gaze of others. I have used affirmations every day for more than a year, and it has undeniably given me the confidence to create and even to start my own business.

1. List your main creative blocks. For example: I was not made to be creative; My friends will judge me; or I have better things to do.

2. Transform these negative thoughts into affirmations. Project yourself into the future as if you were already there. For example: I excel at drawing; My friends will be so impressed that they’ll be asking for my autograph; I have the right to have fun. Write your affirmations down in a notebook, as a phone memo, or on a Post-it. The goal is to be able to easily find and reread them.

3. Every day, repeat these statements several times in a row, preferably out loud, while visualizing yourself in the near future.

You can use this technique throughout your creative adventure to help yourself get past obstacles.

CHALLENGE 2

Defining your priorities

NOW THAT YOU ARE CONVINCED THAT YOU CAN CREATE, YOU ARE GOING TO COME UP AGAINST THE EXCUSE THAT WILL HOLD YOU BACK THE MOST OFTEN: I DON’T HAVE TIME! YOU HAVE DEFINITELY ALREADY USED IT AT LEAST ONCE. THERE ARE TWO EXPLANATIONS FOR WHY THE CALENDAR DOESN’T LEAVE ROOM FOR CREATIVITY: EITHER YOU HAVE MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO, OR YOUR SCHEDULE IS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL—IT FILLS UP FAST WITHOUT YOU REALLY KNOWING WHY. THIS CHALLENGE INVOLVES IDENTIFYING YOUR PRIORITIES SO THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO BETTER MANAGE YOUR TIME.

Creating a mind map

To start with, I suggest that you identify your priorities using a mind map. This tool will allow you to easily visualize and organize a large amount of information. The pieces of information are arranged spatially around a central core, which is the theme of the mind map. In the context of this challenge, the theme will be your daily activities. This exercise will allow you to take stock of the activities that you do regularly and, by contrast, those to which you do not dedicate yourself often enough.

Take a sheet of paper and write your name in the middle of it. Then draw bubbles around your name. In the bubbles, write your main activities, as well as the ones that you would like to be doing: work, exercise, family time, cooking, being creative, organizing, relaxing, planning and prepping, going out with friends, traveling. . . . You can also break out sub-categories of activity; it’s up to you to choose the level of detail you want your mind map to reflect.

Now choose three colors, corresponding to three levels of priority: high, medium, and low. Color in the bubbles of your mind map according to the importance that you want to assign to each activity.

Not all activities are equally important. Defining your priorities will allow you to determine which activities you want to concentrate on. The fact that you have bought this book means that creative activities are probably one of your high priorities. It isn’t a bad thing if certain activities have a very low priority for you at a certain point in your life. The order of your priorities will change over time.

The activities of my daily life are broken down into sub-categories. My priority levels are indicated by colors as follows: white for high priorities, green for medium, and pink for low.

Taking a hard look at your priorities

Now that you can visualize your priorities, are you able to include all of them in your schedule? Here are several common situations; you might recognize yourself in one or more of them.

Your daily life is filled with chores of medium to low importance that you feel obligated to take care of. As Julia Cameron describes in her book The Artist’s Way, many blocked creative people are Cinderellas of our modern world. They concentrate on other people at their own expense, and it can even be frightening to them not to be useful for once. Finding time for yourself is not selfishness. If you want to have a creative practice in your life or to create more, dare to say no more often to less-important tasks so that you can spend some time on your creative activity.

Everything is a priority for you: your work, your family, creativity, travel. . . . If you have too many priorities, you will be frustrated because you can’t manage to do everything. Life is made up of seasons, and it is normal not to be able to concentrate on everything important at the same time. Choose a more reasonable number of priorities, or failing that, aim to create small regular time slots, even just a few minutes, for each activity (challenge 3).

You put your priorities off to tomorrow (you procrastinate) because you are too tired to get started. As the American writer and lecturer Denis Waitley puts it, "Most people spend most of their

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